Iowa State Fair Des Moines with Covered Wagon

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Multi-colored illustration of a covered wagon on a typical midwestern prairie with black lettering on top of the illustration. A red and white ribbon with a lapel bar and rodeo rider charm is attached to the bottom of the button.

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The Iowa State Fair is the largest event in the state of Iowa and is among both the oldest and largest fairs in the country. Annually attracting more than a million visitors from around the world, the Fair showcases Iowa’s best in agriculture, industry, and entertainment. Its attractions include amusement rides, hands-on farm exhibits, concerts, and a wide variety of food vendors. 

The first Fair occurred in 1854, and was managed by the newly created Iowa State Agricultural Society. The six-acre grounds hosted a number of sheds and pens for animals, a 1,500-foot track, and plenty of entertainment. Among the most notable was a women’s horseback riding competition. The Fair was a huge hit, attracting around 8,000 visitors. Families would travel by covered wagon and would camp outside the perimeters. The Fair’s location would move each year, until finding its permanent home in Des Moines in 1879. 


Iowa State Fair. (n.d.). Iowa State Fair history.

Catalog ID IN0134